Representatives from the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) have met the World Bank in Nairobi in a bid to halt a ban on recycled textile imports in east Africa
In March 2016, heads of state of the East African Community (EAC), comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, passed a directive to phase out imports of used textiles and leather goods by 2019.
In the autumn, a delegation from the UK sought to persuade member states to reverse their decision.
Now BIR president Ranjit Baxi and textiles division president Mehdi Zerroug have been to Nairobi to explain to World Bank trade advisers of the benefits of importing good quality mixed clothing. The World Bank had previously said it would negotiate with EAC.
The BIR recommended that EAC should ”promote the import of mixed sorted clothing with a view to enhancing sustainable growth and increased employment, and should continue to support those parts of the population that depend on the employment in the sector”.
The BIR officials also suggested that “other economic, social and environmental opportunities could be realised if the EAC were to lift its threat of a ban on used clothing imports” and actively pursue a programme ”to encourage the establishment of used clothing sorting and textile recycling businesses within the EAC”.
They now plan to research the scale of several country’s exports to the EAC to provide an overview of the potential scale of sorting that could take place in all the member states.
The visit was jointly funded by the BIR and a number of European organisations as well as UK organisations including the Textile Recycling Association, BIU Group, Salvation Army Trading Company, JMP Wilcox, LM Barry and Traid.